Friday, February 09, 2007

Windfall Redux

A few months back, you might remember I got a little miffed at the ND administration for passing up a JACC funding opportunity. In fact, it was so nice I did it twice.

That was actually the second swing and miss. The first was the allocation of the windfall profit from the sale of WNDU completely to the endowment, meaning none was available to fund this long-overdue project. I'm pretty sure I wrote about that at some point, but can't find it at the moment.

But now I, like ND, have a second chance, because another windfall has come ND's way. Thanks to Google's purchase of YouTube (and the prescience of Scott Malpass, I guess), ND has just fallen bass-ackwards into $18.8 million.

No conditions on this income, like the whole "WNDU supported the endowment so the sale proceeds should go there" thing. This is straight-up manna from Heaven. Big time "is that a wallet there in the gutter?" stuff.

Meanwhile, Mike Brey and Jeff Jackson should be wiping the drool from their chins over this. $18.8 mil could not only complete the funding requirements of both the Joyce Center redo and the also-promised hockey upgrades, there'd likely be enough left over to complete the trifecta (or at least get pretty close to it) and give the basketball/volleyball teams the practice facilities in the North Dome they need.

Three birds with one stone, and it won't cost ND a dime in lost fund-raising or other opportunities. The guy from that mortgage company is wrong -- THIS is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how the two schools mentioned are ND and USC.

Malpass, can you give me some pointers for my portfolio?

The recommended athletics improvements would be a brilliant way to spend this money, but will ND pull the trigger? I sure hope so.

2/09/2007 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great idea but total project is budgeted for around $ 40 million. It has been reported that some of the money has been raised, but even with this $ 18.8 million, they're still short.

2/10/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger El Kabong said...

At latest report, the south dome project was only $2 to $3 million short of target, while the north dome project was about $8 to $9 million short (they're looking for a lead donor, although they may have found one). That means only $10 to $12m is outstanding, leaving almost $7m towards north dome practice facilities (which I'm led to understand would cost between $8 and $10m). So yes, they're slightly short, but not by much.

2/10/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ND didn't fall ass-backward into this windfall. ND has been a long standing investor in Sequoia Capital, the venture fund that backed YouTube. The relationship is 20+ yrs in the making.

All the university departments (that make up the endowment) actually made the investment, so why shouldn't they share in the return?

Consider what you are saying - you invest in a mutual fund, the fund makes an excellent return on one investment, and you get a letter saying that all this return is not going to be shared with you or any other investor that put capital at risk, rather, its going to a single investor because "he needs it more." I'm sure you would be happy to vote for that.

Not going to happen.

2/11/2007 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"[Y]ou get a letter saying that all this return is not going to be shared with you or any other investor that put capital at risk, rather, its going to a single investor because 'he needs it more.'"

I would imagine that this was exactly the "letter" that the hockey and basketball departments received after each of the following projects were green-lighted: a cavernous performing arts center; a shiny new home for the College of Science; a new wing of office space for philosophy and theology professors; redesigning the entire local road system; renovating Senior Bar; a new home for tutoring, Campus Ministry, and a giant floating marble ball. Go back a few years further and the list goes on. And unlike any of the beneficiaries of the aforementioned projects, the Athletic Department actually brings in more than it spends.

A place like ND will always have more than enough funding requests to match even its relatively flush cash flow. Given that the list of priorities is long and that a university's primary purpose is to educate, it's probably right that athletic priorities wait awhile in the queue. On the other hand, if ND expects its hockey and basketball programs to actually compete in the elite conferences in which those programs play, then it has to provide those programs with facilities that aren't an embarrassment to sell to recruits.

While there may be an argument that one or more other priorities should take precedence here, I don't think it is at all unreasonable that the Joyce Center renovation be part of the conversation.

2/12/2007 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you mean The Football Department brings in more than it spends. Maybe basketball, too.

2/12/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your position about upgrading the JACC facilities, but there is one small flaw in your logic. It was the University Endowment that invested in You Tube; therefore, as required by the wishes of the donors, any growth of that principal must also be allocated toward the donors original wishes.

So, the only money that the athletic department can take from the windfall would be their proportionate share of the overall investment. Comparing this windfall to the WNDU sale is like comparing apples and oranges. One was a true windfall (WNDU) and the other is growth on an investment, with specified purposes tied to the original gift.

Better look for another source of revenue.

2/13/2007 05:49:00 PM  

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